LIT 165 Syllabus
LIT 165 Announcements
LIT 165 Assignments
WRT 120 Syllabus
WRT 120 Announcements
WRT 120 Assigmments
Notebook for Topics in Literature: Imaginary Worlds (Spring 2005)
Adieu to Imaginary Worlds
One Last Look at Imaginary Worlds
ASSIGNMENT SHEET: Paper #3
Notes on 'Before the Law'
Samuel Beckett Links
Notes on 'Waiting for Godot'
Approaching 'Waiting for Godot'
Notes on 'Axolotl' by Julio Cortazar
Notes on 'EPICAC' by Kurt Vonnegut
ASSIGNMENT SHEET: Paper #2
DIRECTIONS: Independent Project
Suggested Readings: Independent Project
Character Analysis: Brave New World
Analyzing the Brave New World
Embarking on the Brave New World
A Critique of BRAVE NEW WORLD
Inferno: Final Destinations, Cantos XXXII-XXXIV
Inferno: Malebolge, Cantos XVIII-XXXI
Inferno: Questions/Analysis, Cantos XII - XVII
Structure in the Inferno: Analysis, Cantos V - XI
Inferno: Questions for Analysis, Cantos I - V
Introducing Canto I
Approaching the Divine Comedy
Relating to Dante's Inferno
Our Goals for Studying the Inferno
Assignment Sheet: PAPER #1
Leaf By Niggle
Responses to Leaf By Niggle
'On Fairy Stories' by J.R.R. Tolkien
Notes on Ovid and 'Metamorphoses'
Analyzing the Mythic Tales
The Four Functions of Myth
Myth and Metaphor
Myth - Links
Filtering the Introduction to 'Fantastic Worlds'
'La Belle Dame Sans Merci' and 'The Zebra Storyteller
Introducing the 'Imaginary Worlds' Theme
Alice In Wonderland
Notebook for Effective Writing I (Spring 2004)
Conference Schedule: 4/21 and 4/26
Commentary: Following Up Your Response
Critical Thinking and Commentary
Casebook: Evaluating Sources
What is Argument?
Parts of an Argument
Casebook Assignment Sheet
Rubric for Evaluation of Writing
Assignment Sheet: Essay#1
Short Stories About Identity
Thoughts on Stories About Identity
Poems About Identity
Understanding the 'Rhetorical Situation'
ENG Q20: Basic Writing (Fall 2004)
ENG Q20 Syllabus
Frederick Douglass Excerpt
How to Detect Propaganda
George Orwell's Politics and the English Language
Propaganda Analysis Exercise
Weblog for WRT 120
Writing Assistance on the Web
Blackboard at WCU
WCU's Francis Harvey Green Library
Inferno: Final Destinations
Cantos XXXII - XXXIV ~~
9, The Frozen Pit
arrives at the bottom of the Inferno, and the first book of the Divine
Comedy builds to the travelers' climactic encounter with Lucifer, the
source of all sorrow and futility. Readers encounter some of the most graphic,
gruesome material known to western literature in the animalistic battle of
wills between Dante and Bocca (Canto XXXII) and the cannibalism of Ugolino
(Canto XXXIII). As Virgil and Dante prepare to exit this most sad, most horrible,
most terrifying, and most human landscape of unredeemed evil, they look upon
what was supposed to be the Inferno's most fearsome demon yet: Lucifer himself.
But Lucifer, though more gigantic than anything in Hell, is strangely powerless
and passive. He makes no move at all to threaten Dante and Virgil as other
lesser demons have. Lucifer turns out to be a weeping, drooling, pathetic
sort of monster, unforgettably sunk into immobility, flapping his wings in
futility like the rest of the Inferno's sad castaways.
addresses readers, warns them about the R-rated violence; this will not
be for the faint of heart. He writes of his struggle to find the appropriate
language to convey the grating nature of his subject. This is an aesthetic
struggle, and we know by now that if such language exists, Dante is the
poet to discover it.
once again insists his work is true, and struggles once again for words
that will not "diverge from fact." This struggle for language
is also an artistic struggle, but perhaps a mystic one, too. Even the most
"realistic" imaginative literature struggles to convey its measure
of "truth," not just to the mind but to the heart and to the stomach.
These cantos engage us at every level, and they do not fail to make the
"stomach believe" (a Tim O'Brien phrase from "How to Tell
a True War Story").
the foreshadowing: Dante reports hearing a voice which tells him to watch
his step. He then takes notice of the lake of ice where the sinners are
buried up to their heads in ice so thick even volcanic lava wouldn't melt
it. Later, when Dante kicks the head of Bocca accidently, or maybe on purpose,
or accidentally on purpose, he's just not sure, we can remember this passage
and do a little reading between the lines.
the incredibly intense image of the two sinners facing one another in a
perverted kind of "heart to heart" conversation which climaxes
in silenced rage.
where those who've betrayed their country are sent, is the second area in
this pit "where all gravity convenes." The first area was called
Caina, for the betrayal of kin. Here in Antenora is where Dante "accidently"
kicks one of the partially buried heads, yet isn't sure whether it's an
accident or not. This man he kicks turns out to be Bocca, as Dante learns
after their futile violent struggle. Readers may be shocked at how Dante's
behavior with Bocca is so strikingly different from his behavior earlier,
because he seems to cross the line into cruelty, violently pulling out tufts
of Bocca's "hair" and threatening him repeatedly. When Dante attacks
Bocca, it's obviously no accident, but an attempt to demonstrate his contempt
and his superior "power." Yet Dante's power seems a little lacking,
as Bocca stubbornly refuses to cooperate, "barking" at him in
a subhuman, animal rage. I think it's significant that the shade who calls
out to Bocca says, "What devil is at you now?" The "devil"
turns out to be Dante. But is Dante devilish? Has he become demonic? Why
is he behaving this way? What has become of the sympathy he's been struggling
with the entire book? Has the evil he's witnessed warped him somehow, or
has he learned the essential lesson that sinners in hell are to be punished,
not pitied? If so, then where must we draw the line between suppressing
our pity in the service of a higher understanding, and actually being cruel?
Is there a line there? Has Dante crossed the line? Some readers might want
to argue that the lack of pity which Dante feels and demonstrates actually
has the effect of dehumanizing him, in which case it's a good thing they're
about to leave. It's significant, I think, that Virgil does not rebuke him
for any of his cruel behavior (including his bald lie in the next canto).
roller coaster dips momentarily at the end of the Canto, and Dante feels
something when they notice Ugolino. He decides he wants to hear Ugolino's
story, promising to repeat it in the upper world if it's "worthy."
Notice the boldness, the audacity. Unlike it's a promise he decides to keep.
- Ugolino tells
his story and it is worthy to be reported, Dante has decided. Not only that,
but Dante the Poet, the narrator, cries for divine justice to swallow the
city of Pisa, to drown in between two rivers for breeding such horrible citizens
who do nothing but committ crimes against humanity. Is Dante expressing sympathy
here or is he passing judgment? How are the two related? Are their differences
more significant than their similarities?
- Ugolino's tale
is truly one of the most pitiful, disgusting things in the entire book. Yet
the contrapasso outdoes even the tale. Here, crowning the horror, is the mother
of all bloody retribution, the most clever of Dante's contrapassos, because
not only is the sinner being punished, but he is inflicting punishment, which
is also a kind of punishment for him. All of this is accomplished in the same
action, the horrifying cannibalism he inflicts on Ruggieri.
- Notice that
this is perhaps the longest narrative speech given by any of the sinners we
meet. That seems appropriate, given its penultimate position.
- Why is this
Canto so horrifying, do you think? Why the extreme violence? What does Dante
the Pilgrim make of it? How does he respond? How do you respond?
- Alberigo, the
sinner who is covered in ice, explains that his body may still be "alive"
though his soul is down here in Hell. This is the arguably the first representation
in literature of the "zombie." This sinner is so evil that he lost
his soul and a demon possessed his body while he was still alive. Dante listens,
shocked to learn that there are others who may have experience a similar fate.
What's his response? What has Dante learned is the proper response to the
evils he encounters?
- As the last
Canto of the Inferno opens, Virgil speaks for the first time in a long
while. Why has he been silent through this circle, do you think? He speaks
to urge Dante to have "fortitude." What's significant about this
request? Fortitude is the "strength of mind that allows one to endure
pain or adversity with courage."
- This image of
Lucifer is one of the more vivid images in Western literature. What do you
notice about it?
is weeping. What's the significance of Lucifer, the arch demon, weeping?
- The image
of Lucifer seems static, remote. Why? Why doesn't Dante talk to him?